Trump still wants to STOP Common Core! Oklahoma is still fighting to STOP it.

Speaking in Los Angeles yesterday (4-4-2017), President Donald Trump said “I like the fact of getting rid of Common Core. Common Core to me, we have to end it,” Trump said. “We have to bring education local.”
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Today I see a flurry of backlash from the nay sayers, doubters and weary supporters who think Trump can not do anything about Common Core. There are articles proclaiming how wrong Trump is…… yet the writers have little understanding of the layers involved with Common Core and the Federal Government such as federal funding of common core testing and data collection of the results.
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I am very glad President Trump is saying he wants to end Common Core. That ties to many legs of the octopus that are federal. As Trump gets the swamp drained around him some more (if you haven’t noticed he is kinda’ busy) …… these education details that are so important will rise to the surface more easily. The education problems we are all concerned about have the best chance of being changed we’ve ever had now that Donald Trump is in the White House. I see so many short sighted people who just attack and/or criticize but don’t see the bigger picture of progress toward returning to local control.
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State and Local Work
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What we do in our states and the messages we send are very important in bringing the changes we need in the federal government. If no state had ever fought against Common Core State Standards there would be nothing anyone could do in Washington to eliminate the Common Core aligned education system. I am thankful we repealed Common Core State Standards from our state law in Oklahoma but yes I do know there is much more work to be done and that is not shocking to me.  I have dealt with the layers of the state and federal education policies for some time now and see it as an octopus with many tentacles or as a multi-headed hydra.
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If we want true Local Control we have to work in our local communities and states to bring more people into a better understanding of education and the current state of politics, policies, costs and philosophies that are involved. When people see what is happening they find it is no wonder the 3 Rs are getting lost during much of the school day!
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Each state is unique and must deal with its own set of issues. In Oklahoma our State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister keeps smiling and shoring up her support while she awaits her court date for the felony charges against her. According to the Oklahoman – “A preliminary hearing has been set for Aug. 16-18 in the criminal case against state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister” for her actions during her 2014 campaign. Too bad those charges can’t include her deceiving the public when she told them she did not support Common Core.
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Her personality has charmed so many they will not even consider objectively examining the changes she is making to our state education system.  She has plans ready to “submit” to the Federal Department of Education by September 18th that would change Oklahoma’s education system to align with the Obama administration’s education plans! Although states have an open door to refuse the federal oversight and control with President Trump’s executive order killing many federal education regulations.
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Oklahoma’s Superintendent Hofmeister has dug in her heels and is doubling down to rush in her “new” plan which is a system of centralized control.  Hofmeister’s plan is agreed upon by the National Governors Association -NGA, Council of Chief State School Officers -CCSSO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which are the same groups of people that brought us Common Core State Standards.
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Oklahoma’s “new” accountability system set to be implemented according to Superintendent Hofmeister’s plan includes:
  • “new” rewritten education standards (common core compliant)
  • “new” testing/assessments (common core compliant)
  • “new” A-F report card for schools
  • “new” Student Career Tracking System
  • State Longitudinal Data System completed and ready to receive the “new” data that will be generated through the system for “accountability”

Thanks to the popular support of Oklahoma’s Republican “conservative” “Christian” State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and her guidance and backing from the CCSSO -Council of Chief State School Officers, Oklahoma now has a nearly completed plan for a comprehensive COMMON CORE COMPLIANT ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM.  The plan for this system is ready to sign, seal and deliver…….  but deliver to whom?

President Trump is already cutting education funding and a major candidate for Assistant U.S. Education Secretary, Hanna Skandera has been stopped because of her support for Common Core. These actions contribute to the fact that there isn’t enough staff to review and approve or disapprove a state plan. These important developments are detailed in articles linked below.

The political battles surrounding education wage on.  It is very important to know that even things that have been done can be undone when enough people get their eyes open to what is happening.  So my advice to myself and anyone else involved in these battles is — Rest…. refresh…… and fight another day because this is not over yet.

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1. Report Pro Common Core Jeb Bush former Staffer No Longer Candidate for Assistant U.S. Education Secretary  http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/03/24/report-pro-common-core-jeb-bush-former-staffer-no-longer-candidate-assistant-u-s-ed-secretary/
2. Mercedes Schneider- First Round of ESSA State Plans -USDOE Severly Lacking in Senior Officials  https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/first-round-of-essa-state-plans-are-due-april-3rd-to-a-usdoe-severely-lacking-in-senior-officials/
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How to Close the Department of Education – What about the Money?

Call to Action -please read the article below then: Tell your Congressman to support HR899 Congressman Thomas Massie‘s bill to End the Department of Education! The following clear and simple summaries from the Congressman, as well as Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Peg Luksik can help you prepare for this battle of ideas that is ahead. Support from each state is essential! 

The Federal involvement in local pubic schools started with money and it will end with money.  There have been billions of dollars wasted on Federal Education and the Department of Education is now a huge bureaucracy even funding research into student behavior, attitudes, values and beliefs.  There is absolutely no proof of improvement in education from the years of federal control over our schools. Instead the interference with teaching and learning has produced miserable results, as Sandra Stotsky wrote in the New Boston Post.

President Trump has repeatedly stated his desire to close the Department of Education. The same day Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was confirmed, Congressman Thomas Massie and seven co-authors filed H.R. 899 which simply states: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”  Massie said: “This gives the department two years to dismantle, and it also gives both Congress and the states time to adjust and address the return of taxpayer dollars to state and local governments.”

In a USA Today- Cincinnati.com article, Massie said of his bill:
“Today, 10 percent of education funding passes through the Department of Education. In the absence of a federal department, this money could be handled in three ways:

  • Keep all the federal programs, but transfer administration of them to other departments. This would be the least disruptive option. Most of the programs, like those established by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), were up and running before the Department of Education existed. For example, Pell Grants and student loans could be transferred to the Treasury Department, while teacher training grants could be transferred to the Department of Labor. Some may be surprised to learn that Head Start is already under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and school lunches are run by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The transfer and consolidation of programs currently administered by the Department of Education to other agencies could help eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse. For example, in his 2015 report titled “Wastebook: the Farce Awakens,” Sen. Jeff Flake notes that under the Department of Education’s watch, an Inspector General discovered that more than 34,000 participants in crime rings had received federal financial student aid.
  • Block-grant all the money to the states. Each state already has its own Department of Education, and states are more than capable of overseeing the money.
  • Devolve all education spending, including the collection of taxes, to the state and local levels. Although this is my preference, my bill does not prescribe this outcome.

Regardless of the manner in which it is accomplished, it is long past time to eliminate this wasteful federal bureaucracy. Let’s return control of education and educational spending to parents, teachers and school boards, where it belongs.” Congress Massie has layed out a simple and wise plan. I believe all three options should be applied: 1.) Move some programs to other agencies 2.) Block grant some program funds and the administration of them directly to states 3.) Eliminate some programs entirely. 2

Clearly, federal education funding will need to be “unraveled” and sorted out.  Listen to the following short and clear description from Peg Luksik. She will provide a bi-weekly message on the issues involved in education funding which are important to understand in order to dismantle the Department of Education:

Peg Luksik- Federal Education Funding Conference Call 2-28-2017 audio http://www.foundedontruth.com/uploads/7/4/5/5/74554331/30427134-27269823.mp3

Document referenced in audio: http://www.foundedontruth.com/uploads/7/4/5/5/74554331/public_education_finances_2014.pdf

Luksik will continue these informative calls to share her valuable insight on dismantling the Federal Department of Education and its control over our schools. You can go directly to her website to follow her Conference Calls and other education information: http://www.foundedontruth.com/conference-calls.html


1 Sandra Stotsky – Why Accountability to Feducrats is Damaging Student Achievement  – http://newbostonpost.com/2017/03/03/why-accountability-to-fed-u-crats-is-damaging-student-achievement/

2 Congressman Massie -“How we can get feds out of our shools” http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/02/21/massie-how-we-can-get-feds-out-our-schools/98060880/

Why do so many good leaders and groups push “Choice”?

“Choice” has become popular – the easy and quick answer to “fix” education but many who know the details of the programs under the banner of “Choice” and have experience with education policy realize it includes some programs that are dangerous to freedom and is spreading so rapidly because it is being marketed heavily with big financial support.
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If you just listen to television, radio and follow what your usual trusted state or federal officials say, you will think Choice is ALL wonderful. You will think the only people who oppose it are the political left. You will be wrong.
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There are many on the political right, conservatives, Christians who do not support everything being pushed as “Choice”. As with all state and federal legislation, “Choice” must be looked at closely, studied and researched while always knowing the “devil is in the details”.
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Almost everyone has heard it said that “Choice” is about giving parents the choice to decide and about freeing children who are trapped in horrible schools. I know and understand the concepts that attract people. I am not against Charter public Schools in certain inner city situations. But did you know:
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  • Charter public schools do NOT have elected school boards that give parents the legal right to participate in the governing of the school, as “regular” public schools do.
  • Charter public schools include a network of schools affiliated with a highly controversial Turkish muslim leader named Gullen.
  • Charter public schools may eliminate most teachers and use computer based curriculum and or students teaching each other in groups.
  • Charter public schools are often run by corporations for profit and which do not have to comply with the FOIA – Freedom of Information Act that is required of government agencies to open their records for finances and other information the public should know, but “regular public schools” do.
  • Charter public schools are promoted as “better” in academics and graduation rates than “regular public schools” but are not always.
  • Charter public schools do NOT have the same regulations or requirements that “regular public schools” must comply with and cannot be compared honestly as competing on a “level field”.
  • Charter public schools have been “incentivized” in some legislation by paying the founders a guaranteed percentage of the government funds, taken off the top each year.
  • Charter public schools turn away students but “regular public schools” do not and cannot.

So…. Charter public schools operate with tax dollars but are not held to accountability like “regular public schools” and cannot be compared as though they were on an equal or level field yet “regular public schools” are being evaluated and set to close down if they do not perform. They are responsible for all students that come to them regardless of the problems the students bring with them or the extra cost involved. Regular public schools are criticized and condemned by many who do not realize that they don’t have all the facts needed to make a comparison.

Another “Choice” program is Education Savings Accounts -ESAs. A current effort is underway to pass legislation to give ESAs to homeschools and private schools. This is a very dangerous move, which will take away their freedom from government control.

Don’t buy the idea of free government money. It does not exist. IF you take ESAs you take government money and then you get regulation. This is a fact. All government money is “our money” first….. then it goes to the government…. once the government has it… it only comes back in programs with strings/regulations. Homeschools and Private Schools will be regulated by the government IF they take government ESA money!

I will end by saying, I know many of the state and federal officials who are pushing legislation to expand “Choice” programs. I know most of them have very good intentions and they think they are helping parents and students, which is their goal. I do not attribute bad intentions to their efforts. There are a few of them, however, whom I have heard say we should eliminate public schools and replace them with these Choice programs. Folks this is an absolutely wrong headed idea.

There are many reasons it won’t work which include the above that I have already listed. We must study, research, discuss and debate the issues and details involved in making changes to our education system. We are and have been suffering for years from too much experimentation now. We should not jump into ideas and start trying them out without thorough research FIRST!

Linda Murphy, Oklahoma Educator http://www.lindamurphyoklahomaeducator.wordpress.com

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION –IT’S TIME TO KILL IT

(Picture — U.S. Department of Education = Federally Mandated Yearly Tests; Teaching to the Tests; Psychological Profiling; Data Mining; Race to the Top – Common Core; Baby Common Core National Standards; Sec. of  Ed. Controls State Plans; Parent Replacement Centers- Community Schools –Thanks to Dr. Karen Effrem @ http://www.edlibertywatch.org )

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If we have ever had the opportunity to kill the U.S. Department of Education the time is now.  We have a new President, Donald Trump who has said “education must be local.”

He repeatedly said he will “stop Common Core” and “return education to the local level” as he traveled across the country during his campaign. In his book “Crippled America,” Trump says: “A lot of people believe the Department of Education should just be eliminated. Get rid of it. If we don’t eliminate it completely, we certainly need to cut its power and reach. Education has to be run locally. Common Core, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top are all programs that take decisions away from parents and local school boards. These programs allow the progressives in the Department of Education to indoctrinate, not educate, our kids. What they are doing does not fit the American model of governance.”

“I am totally against these programs and the Department of Education. It’s a disaster. We cannot continue to fail our children–the very future of this nation.” Crippled America,” by Donald Trump, p. 50-1, 2015

As I write this article, President Trump’s appointed Secretary of Education; Betsy DeVos is awaiting a vote on her confirmation, in the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  She may be confirmed in spite of the fact that she is highly opposed by many Republicans as well as the Democrats for her lack of knowledge.  What is worse, DeVos said in her Senate Committee hearing that she will work closely with Chairman Lamar Alexander, in implementing the new Federal Education law.  DeVos already knows Alexander and even contributed to his election campaign and to several other Republicans who sit on the Committee.  This is a huge problem for those of us who want to see President Trump dismantle the Department of Education because Lamar Alexander has no intention of doing that.

Update — Betsy DeVos was confirmed with a vote in the Senate on 2-7-2017. A 50-50 tie vote was broken by Vice President Pence voting to confirm DeVos. Congressman Thomas Massie filed HB 899 the same day with only one sentence in the text: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” Massie is one of 64 Congressmen who voted against Alexander’s ESSA, new federal education bill, described below.

Alexander, Republican from Tennessee was Secretary of Education for President George H.W. Bush where the groundwork for more federal control was laid.  He also supported President George W. Bush’s federal expansion in education control through NCLB (No Child Left Behind). He is a close ally of former Governor Jeb Bush, and other DeVos backers who work in a network to establish more centralized control of education.

Alexander’s new Federal Education Bill ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) passed with bipartisan support last winter. ESSA locks in federal control over local public school student testing for “accountability”.  It also expands federal involvement into the area of psychological testing and training for all students K-12 grade under what is called SEL Social and Emotional Learning goals.

DeVos shows no signs, and has made no statements regarding any intent to dismantle the Federal Department of Education and its control over local public schools.  She has stated strongly that she doesn’t want her Charter Schools to be measured by the same system as “regular public schools” but voiced no concerns over the need to kill the Federal monster that has only added to the problems in public education.  Is that a level playing field for competition?

According to Allie Gross, a former Charter School teacher and now education reporter in Detroit, Betsy DeVos’ backed charter high school in Detroit scheduled its board meeting at 8:00 am in the morning at the DeVos owned Amway Building. That made it impossible for teachers and most parents to attend. Charters have no local elected school boards and are often owned by corporations “for profit” while they operate on tax dollars. There is another major problem with “accountability” or “transparency” because corporations do not have to comply with FOIA –the “Freedom of Information Act” requests.  Allie Gross said she could not get the same information needed to inform the public about the charter school that she can from any “regular public school.”

In Oklahoma we have fought hard for our state’s rights against federal intrusion from the EPA, Education and other agencies that over-reach. In education however, we now have a serious problem of growing federal involvement being initiated at the state level. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was strongly backed by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, George Kaiser and others who want workforce training required in K-12 grade curriculum aligned with a national system.

Hofmeister has recently announced on a State Department Facebook post “We Won! Thank you to everyone who helped!! After intensive stakeholder input, research, planning and our in-person pitch by #TeamOklahoma, we won! This $2,000,000. Will help us implement and support individualized academic plans for kids, redefine the senior year, increase concurrent and dual enrollment with earned college credit and career certification, and better connect schools directly with business and industry.”

As I have written in previous columns, this alignment of K-12 with business is a serious problem because the children are considered and referred to as “human resources.”  Our children are individuals who should have the opportunity to learn to their fullest potential and not be categorized in a limited job training system controlled from the top-down.

The two million dollars just announced is coming from the CCSSO Council of Chief State School Officers and JP Morgan Chase & Co. The CCSSO is the organization that works hand-in-hand with the federal department of education on Common Core Standards and on testing.  They developed the Common Core tests which the Federal Department of Education then approves or disapproves.  Though Oklahoma has repealed the Common Core State Standards from our state law, State Superintendent Hofmeister is lining up all of the changes she makes with the national system of Common Core standards, testing and data mining system which has been agreed upon through the CCSSO,  Federal Department of Education and global corporations. Hofmeister also recently asked the state legislature for an increased budget to expand the State Department of Education’s data collection system which will be needed to accommodate the growing data files on each child.

I believe Oklahomans and citizens across the country will continue to stand up for local control of education and work to see that we get it. Officials who play politics and only give lip service to local control will be exposed and removed from office as the public sees what is being done. I support President Trump and believe he sincerely meant what he said about returning education to the local level. We must work on the local and state level too if we want to see that happen. It is time now for us to look closely at what is being said, but then look more closely at what is done. We must work to kill top-down control from the federal government, while we make sure we don’t create another monster of corporate control or public/private top-down education.

Linda Murphy’s bio — https://lindamurphyoklahomaeducator.wordpress.com/about/

This article will appear in The Oklahoma Constitution Spring 2017 edition.  http://www.oklahomaconstitution.com/ns.php?nid=603&commentary=1

 

Trump’s Education Agenda & Problems with Betsy DeVos

Donald Trump’s appointees “signed up for Trump’s agenda”.  –Mike Pence, VP elect on Sunday morning “This Week” 12-4-16

Betsy DeVos was appointed by Donald Trump as Education Secretary. Trump’s agenda is:

  1. Public Charter Schools in Inner Cities
  2. Local Control of Public Education
  3. Education returned to the Parents
  4. Stop Common Core / National Standards

Betsy DeVos has worked in total opposition to Donald Trump’s goals – 2, 3 and 4. DeVos has spent years of time and millions of dollars on fighting alongside Jeb Bush and the Chamber of Commerce for Common Core / National Standards, Centralized Control of education in the hands of Public-Private organizations, Foundations, Corporations and other groups that Charter Public Schools like “Gullen Movement” Turkish Muslims.

These models remove local elected school boards. Parents are NOT in control in this system, which DeVos has been building. There is documentation of DeVos’ work including her very large financial investments against the parents, educators and elected officials (including her home state Michigan and in Alabama) who are working hard to Stop Common Core and return to Local Control.  We who oppose Common Core are the very voters who elected and supported Donald Trump and his education agenda.

This all adds up to a BIG problem with the Betsy DeVos appointment that needs to be resolved. It should be solved by putting all the FACTS on the table NOT just the points where DeVos is in agreement with Trump. Those supporting DeVos should look at all the FACTS and not base their support on personal relationships and positive preconceived ideas about DeVos.  I don’t care how nice, successful, “Christian”, conservative or well intended she is and I’m not disputing her character.  Her agenda is WRONG for America and it is WRONG for Trump. Her agenda is documented and it is a total contradiction to Donald Trump’s agenda in major fundamental ways. We must work to make sure the FACTS about Betsy DeVos’ agenda and hard fought goals become known to Trump and his team.

You can inform your own US Senators from your state with letters, calls, emails in your own words after you have done some research on Betsy DeVos and have the facts. The Senate must vote on the confirm of Cabinet Secretaries.

I am a strong supporter of Donald Trump and believe he will see these issues as we parents, educators and officials from the grassroots who elected him across America cry out!! I hope it is before DeVos is confirmed. — Linda Murphy, Oklahoma Educator

https://lindamurphyoklahomaeducator.wordpress.com/about/

Social Emotional Learning Tests

By: Linda Murphy, Oklahoma Educator

Introduction:  This article was first published in “The Oklahoma Constitution” in the Spring 2016 Issue and was entitled: “How will Oklahoma’s K-12 Students be Tested?”  Oklahoma pulled out of the highly controversial Federal backed PARCC Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in Careers and College Consortium testing in 2013. In May of 2014 the Common Core State Standards were removed from law and a mandate for new  non-common core standards and aligned testing was put into law. Now…..the new student testing trend on the national level is expanding into the Social Emotional Learning area. This is not acceptable to the majority of Oklahoma parents and teachers who know about it nor by many other American citizens.

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Student testing is in transition across America. We typically think of students taking tests so we can see if they have learned the facts, knowledge, information and academic skills expected at their grade level. Today, however, there are major efforts being made to test more…… much more. Before we go there and jump on “the newest bandwagon” we need to take a very close look. We should step back and ask “Why are we testing students? What do we need to know about students and why do we need to know it?”

There is great anxiety growing among teachers and parents in several states because testing is being expanded into what is called “Soft Skills” or “Social and Emotional Learning” (SEL). This new testing is being added to tests required by some states as part of their accountability system. SEL testing can also be embedded into curriculum sold directly to schools in states where SEL testing isn’t required.

SEL testing is frequently found in programs delivered by computer software or online but can also be found in pencil and paper tests or in simple surveys printed on paper. Social and Emotional Learning involves psychological or behavioral performance, which is classified in the “Affective Domain” and includes emotions, feelings, attitudes, values and beliefs.

The goals used in traditional teaching and testing are from the “Cognitive Domain” including mental skills used in academics. For years, teachers have been writing and teaching traditional lessons focused on skills in the Cognitive Domain.

In my college courses I learned to write Individualized Education Plans, IEPs, for students with special learning needs. Students with IEPs had individualized traditional cognitive or academic goals but also sometimes had needs for “Affective” or behavioral goals and at times they needed goals from the Psycho-motor Domain or manual/physical skills. (These three domains are from “Bloom’s Taxonomy” classification system.)

Never….ever… would I (nor any professional educator) write plans, test or train a student in the Affective or Psycho-motor skills without parental consent. It is illegal and potentially dangerous to work with students in the psychological area of emotions, feelings, attitudes, values and beliefs except with parental consent and a certified professional administering the test and interpretation of test results. The student’s test results and IEP are called “confidential files” and are kept in locked cabinets. I always guard the key for security. But now under President Obama’s administration, states have created State Longitudinal Data Systems where even confidential student information can be stored if state officials allow it.

We are entering an era of unprecedented efforts to deliver testing and training for students via technology. Instead of being certain that a certified professional educator who knows and cares about your child will be in the classroom making a final decision about what your child is given, we now must consider that more and more teachers are being moved to the side while technology delivered programs take center stage.

In some programs critical decisions that affect your child’s future are being made without the classroom teacher’s input. In those situations the teacher may not have an opportunity to see or evaluate what their students will see and be learning while sitting at the computer.

Some of the newest technology is delivering “adaptive” curriculum and assessments containing SEL items. These computer delivered programs will “adapt” and become individualized to each student’s performance level as they respond to tasks on the screen. Other new interactive programs are designed like games where the student responds to a screen display and their performance is recorded. There are games being designed to score both psychological and academic skills for a “fun” and often undetected form of testing.

As I said in the opening…… Before we go there and join “the newest bandwagon” we need to take a very close look. We should step back and ask: Why are we testing students? What do we need to know about students and why do we need to know it?

This is just the tip of the iceberg as we consider challenges in choosing the best direction for Oklahoma Public Schools and we strive to provide unlimited opportunities for all students to learn to the best of their individual ability in a safe school environment.


Linda Murphy, Oklahoma Educator, is a leader in grassroots politics in Oklahoma. She led the repeal of Outcomes Based Education from state law in 1995 and helped lead the repeal of Common Core State Standards in 2014. She is a strong proponent of a full and well-rounded education for students using proven methods as well as local control of education and parents’ rights.

Linda Murphy has served as Education Advisor to the Governor of Oklahoma and as Deputy Commissioner of Labor for Workforce Education and Training. She has been a certified teacher for 30 years. Linda works with students who have learning difficulties including visual perception problems and developmental delays. She is certified in testing and training students to develop their skills using the SOI -Structure of Intellect program. She has spoken to hundreds of groups of parents and teachers about education, child development, vision and learning, education policy and politics around the state and nation.